The Michael Weiner Justice Fund
Graduates of Harvard Law (Class of ’86) and others who knew Michael are honoring their colleague through the establishment of the Michael Weiner Justice Center.
Mike believed wholeheartedly in social justice and in workers’ rights. He and his wife Diane were committed over the years in various ways to the provision of legal services for all in their home state of New Jersey. To honor his life and his memory, a group of his classmates in the Class of 1986 and other friends and colleagues of Mike are working with Legal Services of Northwest Jersey to raise funds to renovate the Legal Services office in Warren County, Mike’s home county, and rename that building the Michael Weiner Justice Center.
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Justice Center Groundbreaking as reported in the Express Times, May 28, 2015, by Steve Novak
Michael Weiner probably wouldn’t want his name on a building, his family admitted.
But he would still be proud of what is accomplished there.
The Legal Services of Northwest New Jersey building in Belvidere on Thursday was renamed the Michael Weiner Justice Center in honor of the late Major League Baseball Players Association executive director and Mansfield Township resident.
Legal Services of Northwest Jersey is a nonprofit law firm that serves low-income people in Warren, Hunterdon, Sussex, Morris and Somerset counties, and his colleagues, friends and family said that was something about which Weiner felt strongly.
“Mike had a broader social vision,” Dave Prouty, MLBPA’s general counsel, told the crowd at Thursday’s dedication. “That’s what it’s all about — making sure people have the access they need to legal services … to move forward with their lives.”
Prouty and others who knew Weiner from their days at Harvard law school said they wanted to do something to honor the man who died in 2013, a little more than a year after announcing he had an inoperable brain tumor.
In addition to the name change, the group is funding renovations at the Legal Services building at 91 Front St. Those changes will improve the entrance and reception area, pending town approval.
Weiner joined the MLBPA as counsel in 1988 at age 26, according to a union news release when he died. He oversaw collective bargaining negotiations as executive director in 2011, when the teams and union agreed on a five-year contract.
“Weiner helped usher in precedent-setting changes to the structure of the game, including the addition of a second Wild Card team in each league, the creation of two 15-team leagues, approval of expanded instant replay … and the institution of new protocols and procedures with regard to concussions,” the MLBPA release said.
But his passions went beyond baseball.
Diane Margolin, Wiener’s widow, said Thursday that Mike would be “overjoyed” at the work Legal Services was doing, though “maybe not the name” that will be on the building.
Weiner was a “low-key, under-the-radar kind of guy,” said his brother, Dave Weiner.
But “Michael was always a strong proponent of social causes,” he continued.
Prouty said Weiner believed in the labor movement, saying it could help people achieve more and “level the playing field.”
In a 2011 talk at a Washington Business Improvement District dinner,Weiner praised longtime businesses for their ability to adapt to the times while still holding on to what they believe.
“In order for any business or organization to persevere, they need to have some principle to stick to,” Weiner said.
Articles providing additional insight:
“A Leader ‘Both Brilliant and Humble’” By Tyler Kepner, New York Times
“Michael Weiner served just under four years as the head of the baseball players union, but made an indelible mark, earning praise for his kindness, intelligence and compassion…”
Michael Weiner, Peacemaking Leader of Baseball Union, Dies at 51 By Richard Goldstein, New York Times